Why Teen Literature is Every Young Person’s Love Story: Ng’ang’a Mbugua’s Angels of the Wild
Average book readers would easily testify to you how children stories enthralled their tender minds and tantalised their taste buds thereby setting off their love for poring through story books. Such persons would passionately and with a lot of abandon engage you with endless banter on how teen literature helped shape their world views and contributed immensely in fulfilling their childhood fantasies. Indeed, it is teen literature which brings the adventurous soul and spirit of a restless teen to a tranquil moment. Thus, it can be argued that this is made possible by the vicarious connection of the young mind with the boundless possibilities in fiction writing.
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The key ingredient in teen writing is adventure. Psychologists have fronted the argument that the human brain is captivated by adventure since, innately, every human being desires to succumb to a reckless expedition bereft of the laws that govern human interactions. This would perhaps explain why some people love road trips, especially random ones that have not been painstakingly planned. It is this hunger for a sense of escape into the “unknown” that drives our desires to read adventurous stories. Some call it escapism literally!
Somehow, the reader imagines that s/he is able to traverse an out of the norm world that is probably and hopefully inhabited by “aliens”. Besides, teen literature appeals to young readers because it tends to respond to their immediate desires. Cornered into a structured adult world of dos and don’ts that hardly put into consideration their aberrant demands, teens are generally happy to read stories in which their age mates are heroes and individuals who appear to have a sense of freewill in their thinking and action – their free spirit like life dominates.
It is this freewill and desire to do things in their own way that teens lack. It brings to mind kids love for the cartoon series Tom and Jerry in which roles are reversed and it appears that the mouse has clout and outmanoeuvres the cat. In this set up, the kids feel vindicated because they perceive the possibility of a world in which their hapless selves would be transformed to powerful individuals who call the shots and turntables over grownups. It is a world of reversals where laws of nature are defied and the impossible appear possible.
Mbugua’s Angels of the Wild may not be a story of a one-eyed ogre, it is neither a story of sci-fi equipment and destruction of aliens but it is a story of a young man’s quest to fight for wild animals’ right to life. In his characteristic nature, Mbugua attributes Birgen’s desire to protect the wild, especially elephants and rhinos, to a dream he has as a young boy. The dream motif is also found in his other novella Terrorists of the Aberdare. In this dream, a giant bird talks to Birgen and offers to take him for a ride because it wants to show him something; thereby arousing both Birgen and the reader’s curiosity. On this particular journey, Birgen witnesses first-hand the brutal massacre of an elephant and the callous extraction of its tasks.
The horrendous act fills Birgen with indignation. He is appalled by humans’ ravenous appetite for wild game and trophies without thinking about the decimation of the animals. Birgen can hardly conceptualise of a world without this nature’s beauty. He tries to think of a generation being taught in a history class of a species of animals that have become extinct and his soul is filled with extreme sadness. He vows to fight poaching. However, his noble quest is overtaken by events when he finds himself encased in a web of intricate activities that sees Birgen branded “Poachers” by his schoolmates. This is owed to his ignorant interaction with poachers, a Benjamin Saliti and others, who end up being nabbed and prosecuted in court.
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Indeed, Saliti’s name betrays his cunning nature as it symbolises a betrayer. He preys on Birgen’s innocence and Tomsons, Birgen’s uncle, good nature and generosity to cover up his evil acts in Shaba Game Reserve. He ends up betraying their good course to preserve wildlife by aiding poachers thereby betraying the wild animals also by having them killed. On the one hand, the plot’s twists and turns are easy to follow and a young reader will easily identify and connect with the story. Besides, Birgen’s escapades in school appear factual and realistic something that would easily resonate with young school goers. On the other hand, Birgen’s emotional excitement about his uncle’s fiancée unearths his unfolding awareness about relationships and his own sexuality; thereby, it reveals his romantic expectations and affirms the average teen’s fantasies and aspirations. Read about Wangari Maathai and her conservation efforts here: http://www.greenbeltmovement.org/
As far as school work and learning is concerned, Birgen and his fellow classmates represent a typical class setting with its juvenile rivalry, teasing, and the general sense of ease and play that pervades their environment. The thematic issues highlighted in the novella are current and the writer weaves the issues around other contemporary aspects such as Kenya’s new constitution and current economic affairs with the East like the Chinese trade relations. The writer, for example, mentions the three arms of the government, makes reference to counties and enables the reader to ponder over the challenges bedecking devolution in the nation such as politicking. Also, the novella subtly critics the Kenyan government’s blind engagement with the Chinese government without due consideration of the repercussions on our wildlife or any other wonky issues such as trade imbalances.
Other names that have carefully been crafted in the text are Kumbuko, the history teacher whose name appears to borrow heavily from Swahili’s Kumbukumbu or Kumbuka, meaning memory or to remember; hence signifying his career. Also, the government prosecutor, William Wellington Wefwafwa’s name alliterates. Consequently, the musical touch on the name makes it memorable and helps to broaden the dramatic attributes of the character. In a way, one can argue that Angels of the Wild provides an apt story for young readers which not only entertains them but also moralises them on virtues such as hard-work, self-belief, and honesty. This is of course contrasted against vices such as greed, dishonesty, and wanton destruction of Mother Nature.
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Therefore, this novella is likely to stimulate young people’s minds and ignite their passion to fall in love with reading. I submit that such kind of writing would be useful to mentor young minds on the importance of safeguarding the natural environment for posterity. It also helps instil good values by extoling the spirit of togetherness and the need to unify, face challenges and hopefully surmount them. This is best illustrated in the science congress project that earns the team from Shompole school commercial prospects through mentoring by General Electric. The simple language and structure would easily appeal to teens and young adults to immerse themselves into the world of literature and hopefully fall in love with reading. Read more about the author here: https://www.bigwriters.blogspot.com